Recovery operations are continuing today to help the Yorkshire Dales communities that have shown such spirit and resolve in their recovery from this week’s unusually severe flooding.
Volunteers working with North Yorkshire County Council’s resilience and emergencies team have been on the ground since the rain fell on Tuesday night. They set up a rest centre on the night and have been out in towns and villages offering information and signposting people in need to help, working with Richmondshire District Council.
Today (Friday, 2 August), volunteers from the County Council’s Major Incident Response Team and Ready for Anything, supported by the British Red Cross, are talking to residents in Bellerby and Reeth.
At the same time, the County Council’s highways team worked quickly to clear rural routes, reopen roads and put in place plans to resolve the complex closures on the B6270, which links the upper dale to Richmond, and the C106 road from Grinton towards Leyburn following the collapse of the bridge on Grinton Moor.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We are proud of the spirit and resilience our communities and council staff have shown in their rapid, dedicated response to this unusually severe weather.
“We are doing everything possible to support the communities in practical ways. Alongside our focus on the roads we are coordinating our army of volunteers. They have been out this week and are out again today helping us to understand the personal impact on householders, so we can work with partners to address as many problems as possible.”
Ready for Anything volunteer Catherine Iveson has been supporting people in her home town of Leyburn and in Reeth since the rain on Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m always happy to help someone out if they are struggling,” she said. “On Tuesday I went to see people I know who have been flooded before and again their house was wet through. They’d had water up to their waist and had lost everything. So I went back with my cleaning stuff and plastic bags to help them. What they really wanted was some moral support at that point, and tea and coffee and some food.
“I got involved with Ready for Anything because I wanted to give something back. People have troubles going on in their homes, their lives and it’s something practical I could do. We’re here this week to signpost people to the help that’s available via Richmondshire District Council and the County Council.”
Most roads closed by the weather have reopened, but two remain closed, the B6270 and the C106. David Bowe, corporate director of Business and Environmental Services, said: “It has been a significant event that we have faced, particularly in the Reeth and Grinton area. We’ve had all the troops out there and we’ve done everything we can to get the communities back to normal as quickly as we can.
“Our commitment is clear in the speed with which we removed tonnes of mud and rocks from many rural routes and in our determination to resolve the more complex issue of the B6270, which links the upper dale to Richmond, and the C106 that runs from Grinton towards Leyburn, which has been temporarily closed following the collapse of the bridge on Grinton Moor.
“In addition to the clearance operations, we have been carrying out detailed assessments of the roads and bridges. We have plans in place to get both closed routes open as quickly as we can.”
Site meetings have taken place today between the County Council and contractors with a view to progressing temporary and permanent solutions.
David added: “The most obvious problem is the collapse of the bridge on Grinton Moor that connects Grinton to Leyburn. A huge head of water came down the valley carrying a massive amount of debris, effectively blowing the bridge apart. To the side of the bridge we are going to build a temporary road, which will allow traffic to bypass the existing structure. We are aiming to have this open to traffic around 30 August. That will create the opportunity to go back at a later date to rebuild the masonry arch, and we are very keen to build it back as a masonry arch rather than put in a different type of bridge.
“On the B6270 the bridge is very badly damaged, though it’s not so visible. We will have to replace that bridge as well. To do that we are initially going to introduce a temporary bridge over the carriageway to allow traffic to cross it under traffic signal control while we build a temporary road adjacent to the bridge. Our target date is to have the temporary bridge open to traffic for 16 August. We then aim to have the temporary road open before the end of September, which will allow us to reintroduce two-way traffic flow and remove the temporary bridge.
“Subject to confirmation, the contractor is looking to start work on both Grinton Moor Bridge and the B6270 on Monday (5 August). We will issue regular updates to keep the affected communities informed as work progresses.
“Once we have those two routes open, our intention is to plan for the longer-term works. They won’t start until spring.”
The County Council has reiterated that where roads have been closed on safety ground it is important that people respect those closures and, in the interests of their safety and that of the travelling public, do not interfere with signs or barriers.
As extra mobile household waste recycling unit will be in Reeth on the village green tomorrow (3 August) from 9am to 1pm for residents to get rid of damaged property once they have spoken to their insurance companies.